Henrico kids send kindness to Ukraine on the backs of butterflies

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Posted at 11:34 AM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-21 18:26:23-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — Kindness is taking flight on Sovereign Lane. The garage where a group of boys and girls gather is a hive of activity.

It is a neighborhood group born during the pandemic. Young volunteers are pouring their hearts into this after school activity with a purpose.

The ingredients are coffee filters, clothespins and lots of color.

“There is some neon yellow that is called laser lemon that is pretty cool,” said 10-year-old Ellie. “There are stripes and polka dots, solid and stripes.”

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"Butterflies for Smiles" delivers their creations to assisted living homes and hospitals from New England to California.

“Each one gets a unique design and a smile,” said another member of the group named Ellie.

In less than two years, the elementary school students have generated 38,000.

Sally Sylvester hosts the children several days a week.

“They are really efficient,” said Sally. “Like I said they so passionate and dedicated. They are truly inspiring. They really are.”


Sally said recently the group’s mission is going global.

Their new batch needs passports. Butterflies for Ukraine was hatched shortly after Russia invaded its neighbor.

“I definitely wouldn’t want to be in a place that was going to be attacked or anything like that, so I feel like I wanted to do something about it,” said 8-year-old Evan.

The plight of Ukrainian children 5,000 miles away weighs heavy on the boys and girls from Henrico.

“This whole thing should not be happening. It makes me sad and emotional,” said Ellie. “I think it will give them hope and joy and happiness.”

So far the group has shipped 2,100 butterflies for the children fleeing or caught in the crossfire.

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More than 1,000 were shipped for American soldiers in the 82nd airborne working with refugees in Poland.

“We’re putting every single thought into them because every butterfly counts,” said Ellie.

The group is teaming up with Lift Up Ukraine to get their butterflies into the country shredded by war.

“It makes me feel good because if I was in their shoes I would feel bad, getting the butterflies would make me feel good,” expressed Mallory.

With no end to the fighting in sight, members of the group promise to churn out as many as they can.

“But you don’t have to know them personally. We know they’re in a bad position so we’re going to send them butterflies. It doesn’t matter if we know them or not,” said Connor.

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Butterflies for Ukraine, a new mission of kid kindness sent on a wing and a smile.

“Small acts of kindness can go a long way. A small act of kindness can change the world,” says Sally. “All the way to Ukraine.”

The children at Butterflies for Smiles and Butterflies for Ukraine have already made 38,000 so far. They want to hit the 50,000 mark by the end of the summer.

If you would like to donate materials like clothespins, coffee filters or markers, click here.

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